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Indiana's infant mortality above national average, substance abuse to blame

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -

The state of Indiana is seeing a higher infant mortality rate than the entire country as a whole.  It's a problem troubling many healthcare professionals in Michiana.

New moms, new life.  

Babies are being born, a new generation arriving.

But shocking statistics revealing that more Indiana babies die before their first birthday,.

In 2015, an average of six babies out of 1,000 born, died with in a year. And out of 1,000 of Indiana's newborns, more than seven didn't survive past the first year.

It's something that Indiana medical professionals are working hard to get to the bottom of. 

But what they do know, that whether or not some of these babies survive, is in their mother's hands.

"There is most likely a correlation between the drug problem among young women, and the high infant mortality rate," says Jamie Reinebold, the coordinator for Memorial Hospital's Perinatal Infant Health Program.

Officials tell ABC57, many of the deaths have to do with mothers not know what to do, or what not to do, when pregnant, or after giving birth. 

"With smoking, you know they will have lower birth weights.  And they tend not to see doctors when they're smoking or doing drugs," says Kristen Marsh, a community health nurse at Memorial.  "We want to work with those mothers to specifically try to get them into care."

Low birth weight is the leading cause of infant deaths.  Other causes including birth defects and accidents, all effects of preventable and dangerous habits.

"It's very sad. And a lot of times they'd don't understand what they're doing to themselves or the baby," adds Marsh.

Marsh heads a program that helps educate mothers.  She sees results almost instantaneously. 

"When they first come in for their first appointment, we talk about what's going on medically with the baby and with the mom. You can really see that light switch in their brain when they realize what they're doing," she says.

Marsh explains that the resources are available, but the first step is walking in for help. 

"I hope women look at their pregnancy and realize there's something they can do. They're not alone, there's people they can talk to, there's people they can work with," says Marsh. "We will do anything we can to help them."

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